Spring Skiing Paradise

First run of the morning from top of Lift 5. Credit: Marc Liebman

Editor Note: As of April 12, even more snow has fallen on the Sierra Nevada since this report was written.

Mammoth is known for its late closings, generally after Memorial Day, but this year, closing is scheduled for July 4th!  On April 1st, the snow depth at the top of the 11,059 ft. mountain was a 230 inches, about 20 feet. At the McCoy Station, it drops to 195 ft. and at the base, it’s 160 ft.  Temperature at the top is in the high teens and at the base, in the low 20s.  It will feel warmer due to the bright sun, but the high may not reach 30 so bring your suntan lotion because you’ll need it.

Conditions vary from packed powder to packed powder.  There’s a few slightly slushy (on April 2nd) spots near the base, places where there is lots of sun, the conditions make it soft, but for 95% of the trails, the conditions are near perfect.  And, by the way, it still snows a lot in April.

Every night, trails are groomed and black diamond runs have a smooth path through the moguls.  Frozen granular exists in a few places, bare spots are non-existent, and it will be weeks before they appear.

So here’s what lots of snow does for you.  Off Lifts 9 and 25, there are glades.  In February, there’s 15 to 20 feet between the trees.  Now, with 200+ inches on the ground, there’s 50 feet between the trees because you’re skiing among the treetops.  It makes glade skiing a joy.

Mammoth is a mecca for snowboarders.  It has eight, count’em eight, terrain parks for boarders.

For seniors, 40% of the runs are listed as intermediate (all of which are groomed daily) and 35% expert.  Better yet, on every level of the Canyon, Main, Eagle Lodges, and the McCoy Station, there are bathrooms on every level so there’s no stairs to climb.  At the Canyon, Main and Eagle, there are also many banks of lockers.  When you enter Canyon Lodge, you are greeted by an escalator that takes you up a floor, walk another 20 feet to a second escalator and then its about 100 feet to where you put your skis on to pick up Canyon Express (Lift 17).

Parking is limited at all of the base areas that offer vehicle access.  My recommendation is take a hotel shuttle or local bus that drops you off at the lodge of your choice so you don’t have to walk to/from your parked car.

Mammoth was purchased by Alterra Corporation (Aspen Ski Corporation and a private equity firm called KSL Partners) in 2017 and is in the midst of a $100 million upgrade.  Buy your tickets in advance because they are really pricey if you walk up to the window.  Grandkids under 12 ski free.

Lifts open at the base at 8:30 a.m.  Two are six-seaters, 11 are high-speed quads, five are triples and three are old-fashioned doubles.  The Village Gondola takes skiers from Mammoth Village opens first and takes skiers to the Canyon Lodge complex.  Stay off Lift 25 that is high on the upgrade list.  It is a slow triple with no safety bar or footrest.

Ski during the week because on weekends, Southern Californians flock to Mammoth.  Lift lines ebb and flow and most, except for the mid-station, were less than five minutes when I was there in late March, early April.  You’ll have to ski the area to figure out what lifts you like based on the terrain you like skiing.  I gravitated to Lift 5 (High Five Express), Lift 10 (Gold Rush Express), where there’s a healthy mix of thigh burners and cruising runs and Lift 9 (Cloud Nine) for access to the glades.

Click here for Mammoth Mountain Trail Map

Click here for Mammoth Mountain Webcam

Looking up from Lift 5. Credit: Marc Liebman

2 Comments

  1. Was there three weeks ago and the snow pack on the Summit was reported to be 683 inches. Highest in the Sierras. The 200 plus to which you refer was either at McCoys or at the base. Paranoids , Dave’s, and all the runs off the gondola and chair 23 had so much snow.

  2. Avatar David Moser says:

    683″ was the total amount of snow received for the winter to date. It is not the snowpack depth, which is reported correctly in the article. If there were really 683″ of snowpack (about 57′!) the lifts would all be completely buried!

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